It is not uncommon to use wearable devices to measure your heart rate or breathing. Google announced that the new version of Google Fit, which will be released next month, will be able to use the camera on your phone to measure your heart rate and breathing rate. But it will be deployed on Pixel phones first.
At The Checkup online conference on Friday, Google showcased the company’s latest health care-related technologies during COVID-19 and announced the latest features of Google Fit. Google pointed out that with the development of software and hardware, the company continues to explore how to provide health management functions with the most daily devices and cheap sensors. Thanks to more and more powerful sensors and advances in computer vision, users can use the cameras on their smartphones to work with Google Fit. Now, they will be able to track the body signals presented by images down to the pixel level.
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In terms of breathing measurement, it is to track the user’s chest rise and fall to calculate the breathing rate. The users put the phone on the table or in a suitable position for the front-facing camera to take a picture of themselves. When the measurement function of Google Fit is turned on, users will see a full-screen UI showing their image. It will have two rectangular borders on it, allowing users to adjust to frame the face and chest area. Users should follow the instructions provided by Fit, such as normal breathing and holding breath. And when the measurement is completed, Google Fit will display the user’s measurement results. Moreover, it will collect the measurement data of the past week. Plus, it will collect health information such as walking records and sleep measurements.
Heart Rate Monitoring
The heart rate is measured by photographing the subtle color changes of the capillaries of the finger. The user places the finger on the rear-facing camera lens and back-end AI technology interprets the image to achieve the purpose of measuring the heart rate.
How Does It Work And Who Can Use It?
Shwetak Patel, director of Google Health, pointed out that both functions have been clinically tested and verified to make them applicable in real situations. Say, the algorithm of heart rate measurement relies on collecting the color changes of the blood flow on the finger. But it must also consider the lighting, skin color, and age in order to popularize it for most people.
However, the Google Fit instruction page states that Fit measurement results can only be used for general health management. Thus, they are not designed for medical purposes. You can’t use them to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease or medical symptoms.
This feature will be introduced to the Google Pixel phones first. Google said it also plans to introduce it to more Android devices.
In fact, using computer vision technology to achieve non-contact heart rate measurement is not a new application. Many products have used smartphones or web cameras to detect very subtle color changes on the face due to blood flow to achieve the purpose of measuring heart rate and even blood pressure. But Google’s investment will make this type of measurement easier.